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71-Year-Old Teo Sails to Gold Glory

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Anthony Teo gestures [Photo by Sport Singapore / Action Images via Reuters]

In the history of sport, many athletes have defied age and biology to accomplish great things and Anthony Teo is certainly one of them. 

At 71 years of age, Anthony Teo is the oldest Team Singapore athlete at the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) - and he has achieved a feat many younger and more abled athletes could not. 

On Tuesday, Teo along with Jovin Tan, won Singapore a gold medal in the double-handed men's 303 sailing event at Marina Bay. 

Talking to a crowd of media, his jovial disposition hardly betrays the fact that he suffers from childhood polio - a condition that makes his achievement doubly amazing.

Tan admitted that he might have been bit harsh with his older counterpart at times, but that notion was quickly waved away by Teo.

“When does a young man get a chance to shout at an old man?” Teo said, in jest.

Six years ago, Teo became wheelchair bound but his inveterate optimism enables him to see the silver lining in every dark cloud.

“The wheelchair is really a blessing. I feel so free. You just go where you want to go and take public transport,” he said.

By taking part in the APG at his age and with his condition, Teo hopes he can inspire young people everywhere, and let them know there is still a fulfilling life to be had whatever hardships they may face.

“I don’t think anybody should give up. Because of their disability, they stay away, they brood and they become so reclusive, that is something not good for them,” he said.

“I hope I’m a good example for those young people with disabilities to come out and try new sports.”

“I would like to see these people come forward. At least try one sport. They may not sail because of the outdoors, but at least try a sport.”


Singapore's Jovin Tan and Anthony Teo (L) and Desiree Lim and Glen Tan (R) in action [Photo by Sport Singapore / Action Images via Reuters]

The same determination and tenacity that Teo carries when sailing competitively permeates his entire philosophy towards life.

As a nature lover, picking up sailing three years ago has hugely enriched his life, and Teo hopes that it will do the same of others too.

“I just enjoy the outdoors. I was in tenpin bowling but it was too comfortable, so I took up sailing. That’s my kind of life; sailing, wheeling around,” he said.

“I enjoy life more now. I get more outdoor life. You feel good, you feel fresh. That’s why I say, ‘People with disability, please don’t just stay home. Just get out.”

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